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Last UpdatedSep 2022

Top Free Antivirus Software Plans & Trials
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Who Needs Antivirus Software?

These days, everybody needs antivirus software.

Computer viruses don’t just come from streaming or downloading movies. Many people think that they can avoid potential threats by making sure they don’t visit certain websites or download certain files.

The truth is computer viruses can make their way onto your computer or any other device in a number of ways. You can pick up viruses and malware simply by checking your email, browsing the web or from putting a USB memory stick into your laptop.

Virus protection is a requisite of having your own personal computer. Luckily for you, there are hundreds of choices of antivirus software – each with its pros and cons. Making a choice between internet security software can be difficult, but that’s what we’re here for!

How Antivirus Works

Most antivirus software works on a signature database, monitoring the internet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every time a new virus is reported – it’s indexed, catalogued and added to the software’s database. Once your antivirus software is up-to-date it is equipped to tackle the new virus should it ever reach your device.

How to Handle Viruses

You often have three options when faced with a threat on your computer: delete the threat, quarantine it or ignore it.

Deleting is almost always the best option, but some viruses make themselves "un-deletable" and quarantining becomes your only option. Your quarantine folder will keep the virus isolated and prevent it from spreading or causing damage to other files. Antivirus software can be passive or active – passive requires you to make scheduled or manual virus scans, while active runs in the background; detecting and fighting threats in real-time.

Free vs Paid Antivirus Software

If you are deciding on a new antivirus software and may want to try a free version, keep in mind that there are pros and cons for both paid and free versions. Using a free antivirus software can cost you more in the long run and most experts suggest that it’s better to use a paid version. Free versions can be great to try a new software or set of features, but will never provide the same level of protection - and your service most certainly won’t include internet security software.

Paid versions of antivirus software will cover both online and offline activities, permanently delete sensitive digital files and provide extra encryption to protect your most private files from malware like Trojans, worms and ransomware.

A paid antivirus software is especially helpful if you have a PC or device that has already been infected. Many paid versions offer virus removal and cleanup tools, in addition to the highest-quality prevention and detection rates.

Extra Features

There are a few key features that you should look out for when looking for antivirus software, and it will vary depending on your needs.

Online Protection - If you’re online, then you probably want an internet security software with a built-in firewall.

Email Protection - If you’re a heavy email user then you’ll want be on the lookout for anti-spam, spyware and phishing.

Parental Controls - Parents need to look for software with easy-to-use parental controls and restrictions.

Gaming Protection - Gamers can look forward to a "gaming mode," which prompts the internet security software to use less resources.

Compatibility - You will want to check the compatibility of your chosen software with your operating system, whether that be Windows protection, Mac OS antivirus and everything in between.

How We Review & Score

Choosing the best antivirus software should be much easier with our expert reviews. Our experts have analyzed some of the best choices on the market, and each review covers a wide range of topics, including:

  • Pricing
  • Features
  • Ease of use
  • Overall value for money
  • Customer support
  • User experience
  • Independent testing

But it’s up to you to decide which is the most applicable for your needs. If you need more help, check out all of our in-depth, expert reviews. These will help you understand what you should look out for and how to find the perfect antivirus solution.

Our Top 3 Picks

  • 1
    TotalAV

    TotalAV

    excellent
    9.5
    • FeaturesRemote firewall protection
    • Support24/7 “priority super fast support”
    • Guarantee30-day money-back guarantee

    TotalAV provides users with a comprehensive defense system to protect their computer and mobile devices from the full gamut of cyber threats. The software is easy to install and use, and with a 30-day money back guarantee and very reliable customer service, trying out TotalAV is about as risk free as it gets.

  • 2
    PC Protect

    PC Protect

    very good
    8.6
    • FeaturesAntivirus, PC speedup and optimization
    • SupportOnline help center
    • Guarantee30-day

    PC Protect is a class act bundling together the trustworthy Avira real time and definition based antivirus with a fantastic suite of cleanup tools. Those that subscribe to the Ultimate tier get even more goodies to enjoy including access to a VPN and a password vault. PC Protect is the Swiss army knife of computer security tools—it’s the one small package that does it all.